May 21st, 2007
Sexual Tension in Erotic Romance

An interesting topic came up on the RT reader’s board recently. I read it last night and spent all this morning thinking about. I was going to reply there (and probably still will), but my response is long enough that it makes a good blog. Since I’m always looking for blog fodder, well, dude, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity.

The thread is about the lack of sexual tension in erotic romance, and how sometimes the H/H fall into bed with each other too soon, before the reader cares whether they have sex or not. The excellent point was made that it actually makes the book less hot.

In fact, this is an issue I’ve struggled with when writing some of my books. (I have fought a few characters over this very issue.) I do mostly write erotic romance, so it’s something I’ve spent a lot longer than just this morning mulling over. In some of my books the H/H get busy pretty early on (never in the first chapter or anything like that, but early in the story). In other books, Water Crystal comes to mind immediately, it takes them a while.

I can’t answer for all authors, but here’s why sometimes the sex happens early in my books…it’s all about the characters.

The characters drive my plots and determine when everything happens and at what sort of pace. If I have a character who has a good reason, good motivation, for resisting jumping into bed with the other lead, then I am provided with a way to build a significant amount of sexual tension.

For example, Angelo in Water Crystal resists Bianca for a couple very good reasons. The first is because she’s his prisoner and he’s got honor. As much as he might he want to give into Bianca’s constant blatant attempts to seduce him, he won’t. Later on there’s another reason but it’s a spoiler so I won’t talk about that one.

In Witch Fire, both characters have good reasons to resist each other. Jack knows that to sleep with Mira he’ll be tangling up his life in ways he may never be able to undo. Mira just wants to avoid all men and stay true to the promise she’s made herself, no matter how attracted she is to Jack.

In Blood of the Damned, Jade has plenty of reasons to resist Niccolo. The list goes on….

Conversely, some of my characters don’t have good reasons to resist. Some of my characters are the wilder kind and to have them resisting sex would simply go against their natures and ruin the story with implausibility.

However, if the H/H do have sex early on in the story, you can bet there will be lots of other sorts of tension keeping them apart until the end, not the least of which will be emotional. Because there are lots of kinds of tension — sexual, internal, external. Tension and conflict, after all, are integral components of any novel, romance, erotic romance or otherwise.

I always try for sexual tension in my books because sexual tension makes the book hotter. Sexual tension is foreplay. Who wants to have sex without foreplay? However the length of the sexual tension in my books is dependent on the characters and the characters alone. I write ALL DIFFERENT kinds of characters, so some of my books may have a lot of sexual tension and some may have less.

It’s all about the character in the end.

And I have not done my job as a writer if I haven’t made the reader care about the characters and what happens to them, no matter at what point in the story they first make love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 comments to “Sexual Tension in Erotic Romance”

  1. ok, if you don’t know by now, i love your books.

    a while ago i bought Water Crystal. i had always read the synopsis about it, and i just never had the pull to buy it and read it. but becuase you have never let me down, i knew that i had to buy it.

    i was very very impressed with it.

    now that i have given you a bigger head (!) this is what i wanted to say.

    90 percent of the time i don’t want to see characters jump into bed together right away. i like seeing how the relationship progresses. that is why i started with Water Crystal, personally i get caught up in books and what is going on in the lives of the characters. specifically in Water Crystal because you have alot of time to get to know the characters and what is going on in their lives, i think getting to the sex later is better.

    with Angelo, you know that he is attracted and wants to act on it but due to his honor (among other things) he doesn’t act on it. i like being able to read and feel the confusion that the person is feeling. granted you know that eventually they will get together but it is a matter of timing and finally seeing that one person come to the point where it is a defining moment and they ask themselves; what is going to win, honor or love?

    umm. i hope that makes sense. if not, just pretend that i never said anything. :-)


  2. Hi Barb — Thank so you much! :-)

    Water Crystal is (in my opinion) the best thing I’ve written for EC. It’s also my worst seller! So I love to hear about when people enjoy that particular book. :-)


  3. you want sexual tension? Their is plenty in Kim Harrison’s series, its almost like a will she/ wont she with both males and females. Its not frustrating, yet!


  4. OH! I’m reading For a Few Demons More right now. Yeeesh! Talk about sexual tension.